Vantablack is a cult that has only recently come to light and yet is still largely shrouded in dark. All that’s known about them is that they have a focused interest on knowledge regarding planes. Their number is few, with less than ten known members wandering the world. They became known to the world after supposedly having a hand in manufacturing the Qing Mai incident. They are believed to be the ones who took over the minds of the city’s Aljani and who summoned both the deepest fear and the purple hermetic. All for the sake of creating an opening to steal a particular tome from the Qing Mai monastery. One which held information regarding planar travel. Rumors say that the Vantablack members involved then set their sights on Kanotia, though it’s difficult to fathom what business they might have in the unyielding continent.
An enigmatic group with a particular interest in the knowledge of planes. They are Demons who have been sent to the mortal realm by the black queen Cerebelle for the sake of experimentation. They are tasked with emulating a feat that was performed by a mortal scientist long ago that allowed the former Demon God to fully manifest in the mortal realm. Cerebelle is a demon who wants knowledge above all else and knows that if she has the secret of complete manifestation between realms then her power and influence within the Underworld will increase dramatically. After recently acquiring a tome in Chwalu that supposedly holds knowledge of planar travel, the group has moved over to Kanotia to find out more about supposed gateways to the Expanse on that continent.
PACT DEALER – CEREBELLE
The pact dealer for Vantablack is no mortal nor deity. She is a Demon queen, feared and respected even among her kin in the underworld. Cursed to a railroaded existence to seek strength, Cerebelle is one who has chosen to pursue something different. Her goal is not raw power but knowledge, to see and understand everything that exists in her realm and in all planes beyond. She is regarded as perhaps the most intelligent Demon in existence and hailed for the breakthroughs that she achieves. Her more recent endeavor sees her attempting to bypass the filter which limits Demons from traveling to mortal realms.
As they are naturally, even the weakest of Demons could eradicate a planet if they so wished. Such beings cannot be allowed to exist alongside mortals for they would inevitably eradicate those around them, like predators surrounded by only prey. The barrier that keeps them in the underworld is for the benefit of everyone, yet Demons live an existence wherein boredom can easily settle. Life in the underworld, the constant contests with others of their kind, it can only keep them amused for so long. There come those who look towards the mortal realm just to experience something new. Demons have found ways of getting around the barrier, though their powers are greatly diminished if they force themselves through.
The only other successful method that has been devised is something between pact-dealing and possession. Contacting and forming a symbiotic relationship with a mortal, sharing the same eyes so the Demon can see the mortal’s world. Such an option is not viable with regards to Tertia in particular due to their understandable phobia of Demons. Tertians don’t even accept people who were just casualties of a Demon’s magic, never mind actual Demons themselves. If a Demon tried to deal a pact with a Tertian then they would more likely off themselves than have their minds dirtied by the otherworldly presence. Only a particularly charismatic and silver-tongued Demon could make it work. Cerebelle is one such figure.
The reason why she bothers with such a thing is, once again, not for the sake of power. She’s a Demon, she has absolutely no need to build strength through pact dealing. She very honestly just wants to see mortal worlds and their unique societies and environments. Her goal of bypassing the planar filter does not come from a place of ill-will, it would simply make it easier for her to physically travel and see the worlds herself. It is to her understanding that Demons in filtered forms feel a constant crushing and choking sensation, as if they’re being continuously rejected from the space they’ve entered. She has no interest in having her experiences ruined by such unpleasant feelings.
Though, she does not leave the task of gathering planar knowledge to those whom she deals pacts with. Her pact-bound are to live their own lives and nothing more, in fact it’s for the best if they forget that they’ve even entered a pact at all. She imparts abilities upon those who remember just to make it easier for them to live to their fullest. The ones who seek to uncover what Tertia has found regarding planes are Demons who Cerbelle has sent through the filter. These are the core members of Vantablack, given a dangerous task as they would be ceaselessly hunted were their true nature to be unveiled. A danger they do not fear, for they were chosen by Cerbelle herself and intend to bring her back the knowledge she so desires.
The first of Vantablack’s three Demons is Eisheth, the weakest in terms of power but an expert in the gathering of information. He disguises himself as a wizard clad in black named Eisen and settles himself in various locations that have a high amount of adventurer activity. It would be too suspicious for him to actively seek out planar knowledge himself, so he uses adventurers as proxies. He’ll create false plights that tell a story of how certain items of his possession have been lost or stolen and trick the adventurers into retrieving them. They steal for him, or if they fail they provide a suitable enough distraction for Eisheth to acquire the item himself. Since beginning his trickery, his disguise has become more recognized and thus he has not publicly appeared in recent months.
In the underworld, Eisheth is in a rank of Demon known as Geschon. Geschon-level Demons are those with the ability to destroy areas of space at least the size of galaxies. While this may sound impressive, this is a level that a majority of Demons can reach if they go out of their way to actually train their abilities. This makes Eisheth rather average in raw ability, though he is of a level considered worthy of serving under those in higher ranks. Regardless, Eisheth’s specialty was not direct conflict. For all their innate strength, most Demons are quite dumb when it comes to their quests to become greater. Even though there are several platforms from which they can find rivals, most choose to just roam aimlessly until they find a challenge.
Eisheth played the role of an information broker, gathering information about as many Demons as he could and spreading that knowledge as he pleased. He had a knack for analyzing the strengths of weaknesses of those he saw fight and used that to his advantage. He would tell what he knew to Demons looking for good fights or battles that they could win in exchange for favors. If ever he were threatened then he could lead the ones antagonizing him into bad scenarios in which they battle enemies too strong for them. He rarely fought for himself, instead opting to turn knowledge into his power. It is for this reason that he caught Cerebelle’s eye and was personally requested to serve under her in exchange for the chance at even more information.
The second of Vantablack’s demons is Berith, a Demon with a much more standard mentality when compared to Eisheth. Berith does not leave the task given to him by Cerebelle to others, instead opting to take the most hands-on approach of the three Demons. He takes the form of a powerful Argil named Bertholdt who wins items of interest through tournaments and contests of strength. He battles adventurers for their magical items and equipment and participates in anything with a prize that catches his eye. The caveat to this is that his efforts are relatively aimless, rarely does he actually acquire anything that aids in the search for planar knowledge.
Nevertheless, the status and reputation he gets from fighting gives him a fair amount of influence and opportunity to gather more information. He rarely loses on account of his Demonic strength and the overpowering, burning aura he emits has gathered him a fair few fans throughout Crobayoris and Pradas. He has a personal goal to participate in Pradan mixed magical arts but has yet to find the opportunity. Though he merely plays a game with limited power, he still gets a thrill from overcoming the mortal foes he faces. They fight nothing like Demons, utilizing more skill and technique where the average Demon would attempt to just overpower. Berith has built up some respect for mortals because of this.
In the underworld, Berith is of the Calamity rank. Calamities are named as such because they could viably destroy an entire universe of space given some time. When a Demon reaches this rank they begin to seek conquest, taking territories for themselves and actually making their names known. Berith was no different, he constantly sought battles in which to prove himself whether he could win them or not. Both winning and losing were just steps on his way to becoming stronger. He even challenged Cerebelle when they first met and subsequently received a beating the likes of which he had never experienced prior. A respect was sparked and Berith came to serve Cerebelle, who would point him towards battles more lucrative for his goal of improvement.
The appointed leader of Vantablack, Shedim is one of Cerebelle’s most trusted vassals and earns her title as one of the most competent. She is practically omnipresent in the underbelly of Tertia as the name Hastos, the one she dons alongside her male Magia disguise, holds sway in practically every other cult. He’s a patriarch in Keratitis, a chieftain in the following footfalls, a Protesia candidate in the archmage’s legacy and a priest in the creed of the Hope. An inheritor of Cerebelle’s silver tongue, ‘Hastos’ uses knowledge and secrets to build strong reputations in each of these groups. In return, he is given a plenitude of knowledge and magical items in return. Expensive in his cost but for crazies and radical warlocks it’s hard to name a price too high.
Shedim, as well as being cunning beyond words, is also by far the most powerful of Vantablack’s members at her full power. Bearing the title ‘Realm Eater’, she holds the potential to lay waste to universes without even making an effort. She absorbs information like a sponge, having attained a perfect understanding of magic. She could emulate the unique abilities of her fellow Demons after seeing them only once and retains that ability on Tertia. The perfect Demon to take upon the task of learning everything Tertia has to offer regarding magic, particularly of the planar variety. Though she is more than just a robot to bend to Cerebelle’s whim, if it turns out that the filter cannot be overcome then Shedim has already began study on dispelling the restricting feeling that plagues Demons in the mortal realm so.
Abryelle is the newest member of Vantablack, a Skaal who joined the group under the least likely of conditions. She joined the group during the Qing Mai incident, during an unpredictable encounter with Binko’s deck of disaster. It is normally impossible for mortals to pass through into the afterlife realms while they still live. Unlike Demons, they simply aren’t powerful enough to just force themselves through. Binko’s deck, fueled by the chaotic energies of the misaligned realm, thoroughly broke this rule as it flung Abryelle directly into the underworld. A place in which she would not long survive, for the residents of the underworld are beyond mortal comprehension.
It was fortunate for Abryelle that Cerebelle was the first to take notice of this oddity. The black queen was swift in detecting a chaotic surge and curiosity led her to Abryelle within seconds. The environment of the underworld was weighing down on the Skaal, corrupting and breaking apart her physical body. The realm was not conditioned to sustain a being like this. Cerebelle wanted to know more, so she refused to let Abryelle just disappear or be deconstructed down to her soul. Thus, she imparted a piece of herself unto the mortal before her, creating something between mortal and Demon. Two pieces that seemed to fit together unnervingly well to create something new.
She hadn’t become Aljani. Aljani are mortals who carry the essence of Demons, while they take on Demonic traits they are not innately Demonic in nature. Cerebelle had succeeded in making Abryelle truly part Demon while still retaining her mortality. There was only one race that she could be compared to; the Firstborn. Unfortunately, while becoming part Demon had stabilized her existence, she still did not have the raw power she would need to compete with other Demons in the underworld. She had to be returned home, so Cerebelle did so by wielding the remnants of chaotic magic that were left from her entering. Despite her new Demonic aspect, Abryelle managed to pass through the planar filter without issue.
Cerebelle left it to the members of Vantablack to take care of Abryelle and see how she develops going forward. Abryelle herself was torn by the change. She was a paladin of Maria before it all happened, a progressive person who was always looking towards the future. She was involved in the earliest Skaal emigrations, she embraced the true gods. She had a family but was still confident enough to go out traveling. Now, her future is less clear than it has ever been. She didn’t know what to do, where to go, Tertia surely would not accept a Demon on its soil. The only place for her was with Vantablack. A group truly thankful to her for giving them a hint towards their goal of overcoming the filter. They must seek Binko to learn more of the chaotic energies that brought Abryelle to and from the underworld, and certainly Abryelle herself must have some questions for the one whose deck put her in this position.
Eratos is an example of one of the few mortals who have chosen to embrace a pact with Cerebelle. A bookworm at heart, Eratos was a librarian in the grandest library in Cersai before he was contacted by the black queen. He had been kidnapped at a young age and nearly sacrificed by a cult and became a shut-in from then onward. He only felt while he was inside of while he was around people he knew. He would break down at the mere thought of going out alone. Not a social butterfly by any regard but at the very least his studies did not suffer. Eratos was a grade-A student all around, a genius among the prodigies that Vasara cultivates. There were high hopes for Eratos to become a great scientist or land a high-ranking spot in the Serikaat but such things were not within his aspirations.
Eratos never really applied his knowledge to anything, actually. Even after his education ended he just kept shutting himself in with books and learning more. His fear of the world grew as he did, he was scared of the idea of cultists and monsters and living nightmares. Learning of things like Circadia and the misaligned realm only fed his paranoia. He totally isolated himself from the outside world until he was contacted by the grand library to take on a role there. Had his intellect not preceded him he may have been locked away in a room forever, an ultimate waste of potential. He took the job for no other reason than to be around books. He even started to live at the library to avoid traveling between there and his home.
The library became his life. He almost forgot what the outside world looked like, only catching glimpses of it through opening doors and windows. Cerebelle took notice of him during a time when Shedim was tasked with studying in Pradas’ most esteemed libraries. Within the library was the only place where Eratos could display confidence and he was more than happy to help Shedim in her planar study. Neither Shedim nor Cerebelle expected much from just a librarian but he actually displayed significant knowledge about everything the former asked. Knowledge that Cerebelle wanted more of.
She contacted Eratos through telepathy. A risky move, considering his weak resolve, and certainly one that sent him into a fit of fear. Having his mind encroached upon made him feel unsafe, especially when he was meant to be in his safe place. Using her charismatic nature, Cerebelle calmed him down with promises that she had not the intention nor the means to harm him. It took some time but she managed to get through to him and offered a trade of knowledge. The two found an odd kinship in each other, both with a love to learn and with so much to tell about each other’s worlds. Eratos was certainly shocked to find that Cerebelle was a Demon but at that point he just wanted to know more.
Cerebelle saw more in Eratos than just a man trapped in a library. With all the technical knowledge he had, he could easily be one of the most proficient casters on Tertia. Cerebelle offered Eratos her pact and gave her word that it would protect him if he braved the outside world. In their short time of contact, Eratos had grown to trust Cerebelle and he came to the sudden realization that this wasn’t a feeling he’d had before. An intellectual peer and someone who he was certain wouldn’t harm him. He believed Cerebelle’s words and finally left the library to out and see the world that Cerebelle wanted him to see.
As Cerebelle predicted, Eratos has since become one of the greatest mages that has ever been produced by Vasara. The great library remained with him, carried entirely within his mind along with everything he has learned since. He is now proficient in countless forms of magic and is capable of reverse-engineering even the most complex of rituals. On his current path, given a few centuries, he could viably reach the level of Twylth or Nelaime in terms of magical promise. He has also surrounded himself with others who he has come to trust, a party with which he has gone on many adventures. They plan on heading to Iaxus in the near future to uncover the lost knowledge of the continent. If they return then a spot in the guild of heroes awaits them.
HIGHEST ACTIVITY AREAS
There is no one area in which Vantablack is most active. It would be foolish to limit their search to only a select few places. Even the unyielding continents are not off limits for the Demons, in fact one of their longer term goals is to make a journey to the top of the world to study the area where Twylth created the Expanse. They also wish to go where Redigat once was to see the place where Gonel first emerged, though even the Demons are hesitant to challenge the deepest fear with only three. Before then, there are plenty of other Expanse gateways to analyze and their hands are more than full finding out more about the misaligned realm.